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Diversity Trends in NH
 
Published Friday, December 29, 2017
by KENNETH M. JOHNSON


America’s rapidly changing racial and ethnic composition is reshaping ethnic identities, electoral politics, business relationships and inter-group relations. Though NH remains far less diverse than much of America, diversity is growing here as well. Understanding the changing structure of NH’s population provides important context for discussing how diversity is likely to influence the state’s future.

New Hampshire’s growing diversity is consistent with U.S. demographic trends. Between 2000 and 2016, minorities accounted for 92 percent of the overall population gain in the United States, although they represented just 39 percent of the population in 2016. A considerably smaller share of NH’s population is minority, but diversity is increasing here as well.

In 2016, 90.8 percent of NH’s population was non-Hispanic white (hereafter white), making it one of the least diverse states. Though minority residents still represent a modest share of the state’s population, the minority population doubled from 61,600 in 2000 to 122,100 in 2016. Although minority peoples still represent just 9.2 percent of the NH population, they accounted for more than 62 percent of the entire population increase in NH between 2000 and 2016.

During the same period, the white population grew by 37,400 (3.2 percent) to 1,212,600. Hispanics are the largest minority population in NH with 47,100 residents, or 3.5 percent of NH. The Asian population is 35,300 (2.6 percent), and African Americans number 16,700 (1.2 percent). Each of these three groups nearly doubled in size between 2000 and 2016. Other minority groups, including Native Americans and those of multiple races, make up the remaining 1.7 percent of NH’s population.

There is considerable variation in the patterns of population increase among racial groups. Whites represented the vast majority of the population gain during the 1990s when many people moved to NH from other states, particularly Massachusetts. Things began to change in the 2000s, when roughly equal numbers of white and minority residents were added to the state’s population.

Since 2010, the minority population of NH has grown by 22,500, according to recent Census Bureau estimates. In contrast, the white population declined by 4,600. During the past 25 years, an increasing share of NH’s population growth has been from the growth of minority populations.

Children Lead the Way
Children are in the vanguard of this growing diversity. In all, 14.3 percent of NH’s children belonged to a minority in 2016 compared to 7.9 percent of the adult population. Hispanics, Asians, and those of two or more races represent the largest share of this minority youth population.

The greater diversity among children is the result of diverging trends. First, the minority child population grew by 16,900 (83 percent) between 2000 and 2016.

Second, the white youth population diminished by 65,900, a 23 percent decrease, during the same period. Because the minority youth gain was not sufficient to offset the white loss, NH’s child population declined by 49,000. The state’s experience is consistent with national trends, which show the white child population declining in 46 of the 50 states. This combination of fewer white children and more minority children accelerated the growing diversity among young NH residents.

Growing Diversity in the Future
As we look to the future, the proportion of NH’s population that is minority will likely continue to grow. In 2014, more whites died than were born in NH, and this trend continued in 2015. This is the first time in the state’s history when more whites have died than been born. New Hampshire is one of 13 states where white deaths now exceed births. In NH, 98 percent of all people who died in 2016 were white compared to 88 percent of all births.

In previous research, we found that white deaths exceed births because:

• The white population is older;

• Fewer white women are of prime child bearing age;

• And fertility rates are low.

In NH, 18.1 percent of the white population is over 65 compared to 6.5 percent of the minority population. Mortality rates are higher for older adults, so the high proportion of older whites results in more deaths. White deaths have also risen recently in NH because of the opioid epidemic.

Fertility patterns also contribute to fewer white births than deaths. Only 23.7 percent of white women are of prime child bearing age (20-39) compared to 31.6 percent of minority women. Though there are far fewer minority women than white women in NH, the larger proportion of minority women in their prime child-bearing age increases the proportion of minority births.  

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